Tips on what to do when your baby seems to be constantly hungry.
You've been feeding your baby as much as you think he or she should need, and yet still baby seems to want more. If this sounds all too familiar, you may be at your wit's end trying to figure out how to satisfy your baby's appetite.
It might be that your baby is going through a growth spurt, just wants a cuddle, or is ready to start on solid food. We take you through what to do when your baby seems to be constantly hungry.
Why does my baby still seem hungry?
There are a number of reasons why your baby might still seem to be hungry just after a feeding or at all times of the day and night.
Is it time to start my baby on solids?
- Baby might simply still be hungry. Remember that a growing baby needs lots of nutrition and calories to help them on their way - babies double their size in the first 6 months. Also bear in mind that breastfed babies need feeding more frequently than those who are bottle-fed, as their food is digested more quickly and so they are hungrier more often. Young babies have small stomachs and so aren't able to take on much at a time, but as your baby grows they will be able to cope with bigger feeds.
- Baby might be thirsty. If your baby is breastfeeding remember that he gets water as well as food from your breast-milk, so he may need to be fed a little longer if he isn't quite getting enough hydration. If your baby is older than 6 months you may want to try giving him some water to drink.
- Baby might want comforting. Your baby might just be craving comfort from close physical interaction, so try carrying him around with you to see if his hunger is quelled. Alternatively he may want to 'comfort-suck' - when your baby craves the action of suckling without needing the food it provides - so the problem could be solved by giving him a dummy or even your finger to suck on.
- Baby might be tired. Try comforting your baby to sleep, as he may just need some rest.
- Baby might need a nappy-change. It may sound obvious, but a missed nappy-change can often be the source of the problem when your baby seems upset.
- Baby might be having a growth spurt. Growth spurts in babies generally tend to occur when they are 2 months, 3 months, and 6 months old. If your baby is going through one of these, their demand for feeding will be more, but will settle to normal again once the spurt is over.
If your baby always seems hungry, it may be that he is ready for solid food.
The Department of Health
recommend that you don't start your baby on solids before he or she is 6 months old, as baby's digestive system will not have matured enough before that time to cope with the new intake. Also, up until this time it is recommended that you feed your baby exclusively on breast milk.
Remember that all babies' appetites differ just like adults', but be sure to consult your healthcare professional before starting your baby on solids.
What can I do to help?
If your baby is still displaying signs of hunger, try feeding him a little more to see how he reacts. If your little one really is hungry he will gladly take on extra milk, but if they don't seem interested in feeding, you may like to try the following:
- Carry baby close to you in a sling. He may settle down due to the comfort and physical closeness this offers.
- Rock baby gently in your arms, in a pram, or in a cot.
- Swaddle your baby - sometimes your baby may be craving the comfort of being firmly held, recreating the feeling of being in the womb. This can be extremely comforting for very young babies.
- Take baby for a walk in his pram. You will both benefit from the fresh air and change of scenery.
- Give baby a bath to help him settle down.
If you are concerned about how your baby is feeding, it may be wise to speak to your healthcare professional for more advice.